Making the car reservation in the correct way will prevent unnecessary bothers. In this section we will discuss those matters which you have to pay attention to so you can make a good reservation. Bear in mind that an incorrect reservation is invalid.
When you call to make the reservation, the operator will ask you a few questions, including:
Name of the one picking up the car. If you are the one in charge of everything, this point will not interest you. However, if you want someone else to pick up the car for you (a friend, a relative) you should give his/her full name and his/ her social security number.
Credit card number and its expiration date. You have to inform the operator what kind of card you own: debit or credit. Many people get confused about them; therefore, if you are not sure, phone the company or the bank and ask them what type of card you have.
Pick up and return date.
The place where you intend to pick up the car and the place where you intend to return it. If you do not want the return place to be the same one to the pick up one, you should find out if you can do this and, if it is so, find out how much this facility will cost you.
Model, category and size of the car you want (see the following appendix to learn more about this topic that may cause many problems).
Information about your flight. This is optional, obviously, but it is very useful so that the agency is aware of the modifications in your flight arrival in order to reserve the car in case you are delayed or to have it beforehand if you arrive earlier than expected.
Discounts you plan to use such as the ones you get from your credit card, some airline discounts or the ones of the hotel you are staying in. Also if you are a member of a Premium club, if the company you work for has a commercial agreement with the agency or if you work for the Government or the Army and are on an official trip.
Any type of special feature, such as car seats for babies (find out whether this is mandatory in the state you are going to) or maybe a car for a smoker.
Finally and more important, ask for your confirmation number. In 99,9% of the cases the phone operator will give you the number without you asking for it, but if he forgets about it, you should remind him because without this number your reservation is worthless. When you are given the number take note of this in several places so as not to lose it, especially if the trip is not right away. It is a good idea to save this number in you mobile phone and together with the flight or bus tickets.
A very important matter to bear in mind when making the reservations is the understanding between the client and the agency as regards the car. Agencies classify cars as standard, luxury, economic, and so on. And this causes inconvenience in two different ways. The first one is that the client chooses a category that “seems” to him more suitable and when he is given the car he is disappointed since it is not what he expected. The second and commoner option is that the client chooses a category that he has used another time with the same agency or another agency and he has liked it, or because someone else recommended that category. The problem is that from agency to agency, from state to state, from branch to branch, and through time categories change. Some may think a car is standard and others consider it economic; for some, automatic window lift and power lock doors are enough to classify a car in a higher category; however, for others this is not so. That is why you should ask by phone what are the features of each category so as to have a precise idea of the cars each category includes and choose without any problem.
The size of the car is something to bear in mind when you make the reservation. This feature, not luxury, is what determines the price of the vehicle. Three things should be taken into account regarding this. First: law penalizes severely those who exceed the number of passengers allowed per car. That is to say, that if you are planning to go on vacation with your family and are four in all, you will be able to rent a car for four but you will not be able to take a friend or relative with you. Second: the car size can be the right one for a family unit, but remember that luggage tends to be bigger and a small car has a small trunk. Third: maybe when you are making the reservation, the agency offers you a small car and once in the agency you can do the relative paperwork to get a better category with a coupon or a credit card. This is risky since they do not assure you this will be possible and you may end up with a smaller car.
Another option when you make the reservation asking the operator if you can give him your flight schedule, so that they can pick you up at the airport. Most car rental agencies offer this service at an economic price. As there are many agencies of this kind at the airports, the ones that are not there charge little money to pick you up and in that way compete with the others. The advantage of being picked up at the airport is that you have to carry the bags only once and you will be taken to the agency to do the right paperwork. If you take a cab when you get off the plane, you would have to carry the luggage in the trunk of the cab, then take it out at the agency, carry it while you do the paperwork and carry it again to put it in the rented car.
Finally, it is very important you ask for the FINAL price when making the reservation, otherwise the agency will give you the prices of each of the points; that is to say: the insurance, the deposit, taxes, and so on. Always remember to ask for the FINAL price all included so as not to be surprised later on.